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On Your Doorstep exhibition install to opening

Katherine Slade, Ben Rowson, Jody Deacon, Julian Carter and Alastair Willis, 24 May 2022

The On Your Doorstep exhibition is now open at Oriel y Parc in St. David’s, Pembrokeshire. This collaborative exhibition between the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and Amgueddfa Cymru highlights natural history and archeological discoveries made across Pembrokeshire. It also features local wildlife, and you can use our spotter’s sheets to spot them.

This exhibition emerged from an idea formed during the early Covid lockdown in 2020. As nobody could travel far from home, we all started to notice and appreciate what was right on our doorsteps.

Our response at the museum was to create resources inspired by the museum collections to encourage people to explore the nature and archaeology where they live. Spotter’s guides, archaeology factsheets, puzzles and nature bingo were released under the On Your Doorstep banner during the restrictions.

But how did we prepare and transport the museum objects used in the exhibition and what was involved from a curator’s point of view?

Like many people across the UK, we had to find new ways of working during the pandemic to help keep everyone safe. Our team, working from homes across Wales, met virtually and brainstormed ideas online.

Following the design and planning phases, museum curators and conservators made sure the chosen museum objects were ready for display. Some of the specimens needed additional conservation and preparation work. This included adding extra fixings to pressed botanical specimens so that they were securely attached to their backing and moving preserved fish to new preserving fluids. A beautiful Corn Marigold wax model made in the 1930s required extensive work to remove a wax bloom covering the model as well as some stabilisation repairs. Special slug models were created for the exhibition by shell curator Ben, as it is difficult to show the beauty of these animals from fluid preserved specimens in our collections.

We wanted to show the specimens in a natural context, so we gathered together dressing materials such as dried plants, twigs and leaves. Stripy coastal snails were stuck onto a dried and painted Sea Holly, and eggboxes were needed to stage the moths around a moth trap. We used pebbles to hint at the Scaly Cricket’s shingle shore home, and a hand lens by the lichens suggests a way to spot tiny characters in the field.

Once everything was assembled, we started packing ready for transport from National Museum Cardiff to Oriel y Parc. With many delicate objects, this was no mean feat. Items were ticked off lists, object exit forms (to allow us to track where specimens are) were signed and we were ready to go!

Meanwhile the museum’s exhibitions and tech teams continued work to get cases, panels, labels in place, as well as commissioning construction of the central structure in the gallery, made in part to show off the impressive casts of early Christian monuments from Penally.

Once curators and conservators arrived at Oriel y Parc, and after a quick cuppa, we started to arrange cases into position with the Oriel y Parc team. We cleaned the insides of the cases thoroughly before placing objects.

Because of the wide variety of Amgueddfa Cymru’s collections, something we can do is combine very different objects and subjects. In this exhibition we mixed natural history and archaeology specimens. While Wales has many native plants and animals, some were brought to Wales by people, for example, for food, medicine or accidently. We placed a couple of non-native animals and plants into archaeology cases in the gallery. A poppy sits amongst prehistoric and Roman finds, as it was probably accidently introduced by farmers to Wales during the Iron Age.

A fun finishing touch was to hide Ghost Slug models around the gallery. Why? Ghost Slugs were first found in Wales in Cardiff in 2008. We want to track their spread and need everyone to look for them. Could you be the first to find one in Pembrokeshire? To get some practice you can search for them in the exhibition!


The On Your Doorstep exhibition can be seen now at Oriel y Parc in St. David’s. There are accompanying digital resources, all accessible from the website. These include some new free spotter’s sheets created especially for the exhibition.

For more news around the exhibition take a look at @OrielyParc on Twitter and use the hashtags #OnYourDoorstep and #ArEichStepenDrws

For news on the archaeology, conservation and natural history teams at Amgueddfa Cymru follow @SF_Archaeology, @NatHistConserv and @CardiffCurator

Katherine Slade

Curator: Botany (Lower Plants)
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Dr Ben Rowson

Senior Curator: Invertebrate Biodiversity (Terrestrial Mollusca)
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Julian Carter

Principal Conservator, Natural Sciences
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Alastair Willis

Senior Curator: Numismatics and the Welsh Economy
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